New York Couple Sues Topps: Punitive damages sought

SEATTLE, WA – A lawsuit seeking punitive damages was filed today against Topps, the New Jersey beef supplier that recalled nearly a year’s supply of frozen ground beef patties after its products were identified as the source of an E. coli outbreak in September. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Groton, New York, residents Keith and Kristin Goodwin and their 8-year-old son, Lucas, in Tompkins County Supreme Court by Seattle-based Marler Clark and Rochester-based Underberg & Kessler.

In the lawsuit, the Goodwin family’s attorneys state that Topps had knowledge of consumer illness tied to its products and a positive E. coli sample from its ground beef patties no later than September 8th, seven days before Kristin and Lucas Goodwin ate Topps hamburgers. Both mom and son were hospitalized on September 24th, and both later tested positive for a genetically indistinguishable strain of E. coli O157:H7 from that isolated from Topps ground beef patties. Kristin was released from the hospital on September 26th, but Lucas developed hemolytic uremic syndrome and remained hospitalized for eight days. While they were hospitalized, Topps recalled 332,000 pounds of ground beef products. The company later expanded the recall to include 21.7 million pounds of ground beef.

“We are asking for punitive damages because had the company acted responsibly and recalled its products the day they discovered the E. coli contamination, Kristin and Lucas’ infections could have been prevented,” said attorney William Marler, managing partner of Marler Clark. “It was poor judgment on the part of Topps, and although Topps paid for this mistake by going out of business, consumers like the Goodwins paid with their health.”

Marler Clark has represented thousands of victims of E. coli, Salmonella, and other foodborne illness outbreaks since 1993. Marler Clark and Underberg & Kessler have combined efforts to represent victims of a number of outbreaks, including 72 victims of the Brook-Lea Country Club Salmonella outbreak in 2002, a young child who contracted E. coli and HUS after eating a Topps hamburger purchased at an Albany Price Chopper in 2005, and several victims of the Dole spinach E. coli outbreak in September, 2006.

More about the Topps E. coli outbreak can be found in the Case News area of this site.